Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 48

This week our Top-5 starts looking at the battle of Tikrit. According to The New York Times, “the hard lessons of the Tikrit offensive, with a heavy cost in casualties for the Shiite militiamen and soldiers involved, have Iraqi officials thinking more cautiously about their next steps”. In the article you’ll find also interesting maps of the ongoing battle.

The debate on the controversial F-35 is still lively. On the one hand, we have positive news regarding the Pentagon’s estimated procurement cost, while on the other hand the technical problems of the JSF are not vanished.

After the terrorist attack in Tunisia, a growing attention has been devoted to North Africa. The Monkey Cage provides an interesting perspective on an underrated case: Morocco.

Uk defense under reconsideration? As stated by the BBC: “The Commons Def Committee says Britain’s security strategy urgently needs updating, to ensure several different threats can be tackled at once”. We will look at the electoral debates to assess the effective role played by defense issues in the UK…

Finally, the account by Duck of Minerva of the most recent ISA Conference in New Orleans (Game of Thrones as a main issue..)


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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 42 (ISA version)

This week we present a different version of the “Top 5”. Indeed, here below you’ll find our Top 5 of the most interesting and promising panels  at the next ISA’s 56th Annual Convention. As we’ve already illustrated in a previous post, Venus in Arms will be the 2015 Annual Convention in New Orleans (February 18-21), presenting papers on public opinion and (counter)narratives, Italian operations in Libya, Haiti and Somalia.

We will provide a detailed account of the Conference (“Global IR and Regional Worlds. A New Agenda for International Studies”) at the end of the next week. So far, here the list of “our favorite panels” (in chronological order):

1) “Parties, Coalitions, And Foreign Policy“.Wednesday, February 18, 10:30 AM – 12:15 PM. This panel addresses the influence and impact of indivdiual political parties as well as coalition government on foreign policy. The Discussant of the panel will be Juliet Kaarbo.

2) “Economic Austerity And Military Power“. Wednesday, February 18, 1:45 PM – 3:30 PM (yes, as it always happens, two interesting panels at the same hour).  How do states implement military spending cuts? When do states demilitarize and when do states engage in strategic reform in response to cuts? What are the effects of these mandated cuts on military effectiveness, strategy, and power? The panel on military spending cuts takes both contemporary and historical approaches to shed light on these questions.

3)”Foreign Fighters: A Decade Of Scholarship“. Wednesday, February 18, 1:45 PM – 3:30 PM. This roundtable will host several scholars who have written extensively on the topic. The Chair of the panel will be David Malet

4) “Game Of Thrones And World Politics: Empirical Investigations“.Wednesday, February 18, 4:00 PM – 5:45 PM. The panel examines the relationship between the Game of Thrones books and/or HBO hit series and “first-order” global political phenomena. The aim is to focus specifically on empirical investigations of the circulation of pop culture ideas in actual foreign policy / global processes. the Chairs are Dan Drezner and Charlie Carpenter. Here a fantastic presentation of the panel.

5) “The Un-Informed Public? Foreign Policy And Public Opinion“. Friday, February 20, 4:00 PM – 5:45 PM. This panel brings together papers that explore the influence and impact of public opinion on the formulation and conduct of foreign policy. ViA will be at the panel as a Discussant.

We will be also at the “IR Blogging Awards and Reception, Sponsored by Sage and Duck of Minerva

You’ll find additional details on the whole program me here


See you in New Orleans

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 40

Tuesday 27 January is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and thus also the end of the deadliest act of mass murder in a single location in human history“. This is the way through which The Guardian remembers the anniversary, which we should never forget.

The Tripoli branch of Islamic State (Isis) has claimed responsibility for an attack against a luxury hotel where several foreigners have been killed. For a detailed analysis on the Islamist forces in Libya see this report by Jon Mitchell. 

The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania released its seventh annual 2013 Global Go To Think Tanks Report. Good news for Brookings, still at the top.

Very good news from Kobane. After several months of intense fighting the Kurds (with the help of US air strikes) have liberated the city from the siege posed by ISIS militants.

Finally, check this fantastic presentation of the next ISA panel on IR and Game of Thrones. ViA will attend the panel. So, don’t’ worry, we all provide a detailed report!

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – Week 7

Our first suggestion is related to the anti-cartel militias in Mexico and the “war on drugs”. The government’s plan is that of replacing militias with a new force, the Rural Police (including the vigilantes themselves). However, as reported by The Washington Post, the demobilization of armed anti-cartel militias groups “has created the potential for new clashes: between Mexican security forces and militiamen, but also among rival militias”.

We’ve discovered a very funny link on “spurious correlations”. Venus in Arms fosters methodological pluralism, encouraging rigorous analyses on security issues for a pop-culture perspective. Some examples? The correlation between “Number people who drowned by falling into a swimming-pool” and “Number of films Nicolas Cage appeared in”.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross examines the complex situation in Libya (here the post at War on the Rocks). Summarizing, the author defines the 2011 NATO’s intervention as a “strategic mistake”. For a more detailed (and even critical) assessment of the “humanitarian intervention” see also Alain J. Kuperman (here)

The International Crisis Group has just released the last report on Afghanistan (a forgotten war??). According to the ICG: “The overall trend is one of escalating violence and insurgent attacks. […] The insurgents have failed to capture major towns and cities […]. Yet, the increasing confidence of the insurgents, as evidenced by their ability to assemble bigger formations for assaults, reduces the chances for meaningful national-level peace talks in 2014-2015”

Finally on pop-culture (yes, again). As reported by Duck of Minerva, Charli Carpenter and Dan Drezner seek paper abstracts for an International Studies Association 2015 Conference panel proposal examining the relationship between the A Song of Ice and Fire book series and/or HBO hit series Game of Thrones and global political phenomena. So, a serious stuff (not the best place to develop my ideas on White Walkers as Soviets…)

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